Rugby World Cup: England scrum is our weapon, Eddie Jones warns Argentina
Last Updated: 03/10/19 2:40pm
Eddie Jones expects to take the battle to Argentina in the scrum in Saturday's Rugby World Cup Pool C match as England prepare to get serious in their bid to claim a second Webb Ellis trophy.
England have made a perfect start to the tournament with bonus-point wins over Tonga and the USA to top the pool, but now face their first tier-one opposition in the Pumas.
They come up against an Argentina side in urgent need of a win to keep their World Cup dreams alive having lost to France on the opening weekend. Coached by former world-class hooker Mario Ledesma, Argentina have tried to make their once formidable scrum a force again.
Ledesma has made fixing problems up front a World Cup priority ever since Argentina conceded three tries from scrums in a 28-17 loss to Ireland in Dublin last November, but Jones is keen to take the Pumas on at their own game.
"It will be a massive test on Saturday and they haven't scrummed against us yet," Jones said in Tokyo on Thursday.
"We believe our scrum can be a real weapon for us so hold onto your seats."
England's scrum will be aided by the return from injury of prop Mako Vunipola, albeit on the bench. Loosehead Vunipola had surgery after tearing his hamstring from the bone in early May and has played just 17 minutes of rugby since, with a brief cameo against Ireland in which he tore the scar tissue.
England will be keen to avoid any aggravation of the injury on Saturday, so Joe Marler retains the No 1 shirt with Vunipola likely to come on in the second half.
Other than that, England will look to bed down key combinations for the campaign ahead of their final pool match against France and the knockout stages to come.
Maro Itoje and George Kruis line up in the second row together for the first time this tournament, while the back-row combines the mobility of flankers Sam Underhill and Tom Curry with the power of Mako's brother Billy Vunipola.
Jones admitted back-row selection had been one of his toughest decisions.
"We have got four quality back-rowers there, all competing for a spot," said the Australian. "Curry and Underhill, particularly given the conditions, we think will be useful in terms of the contest at the breakdown.
"[Lewis] Ludlam has just impressed us in the World Cup with his energy, his enthusiasm but Mark Wilson is unlucky not to get selected."